Thousands of miles separate the United States from Israel, which can make the distance between the two allied countries appear quite large. For nearly 40 years Camp Ramah has bridged this gap by partnering with The Department of Zionist Education of The Jewish Agency for Israel to bring a Mishlachat (Israeli staff delegation) to enrich our camp community. Led by veteran staff member Vered Ken Lanes, Mishlachat members serve as educators and specialists in a variety of activity areas and plan educational programs with campers and staff. Dr. Gabi Shetrit, head of our educational program, trains and supervises the Mishlachat members who teach the Hebrew curriculum.
Naomi O. (Mishlachat, Solelim Staff): When I landed in the United States, I felt as though I was in a movie. It’s really fun and exciting and interesting to get used to all these different customs and games here. I feel like my chanichot (campers) are teaching me things instead of me teaching them, which is really funny and I like it a lot. Working at a Jewish camp makes me feel like part of a family. When I first landed in America, I was in a foreign place that I didn’t know and even though I can speak the language here, I wasn’t used to certain things and everything was so different. But then the moment I got to camp and I was surrounded by Jewish people, no matter where they are from, I just felt immediately like I was part of a family. I knew the t’filot (prayers) and I felt this warm family feeling.
Nes G. (Mishlachat, Garinim Staff): In a lot of ways the United States and Israel are very similar. I don’t always feel like I am in a different country, except for the fact that I am speaking English, which is not my first language. At camp I feel like I am in a Jewish bubble, which reminds me of Israel. I am really happy that I came to a Jewish summer camp, because usually, during my daily life in Israel, I don’t really focus on Jewish identity, and I don’t usually go to prayers, but here I do it every day. It’s really very nice to see other kinds or aspects of Judaism since what I know from Israel comes mainly from Orthodox Judaism. I really enjoy learning more about Judaism in this wonderful Conservative community.
Meital T. (Mishlachat, Kochavim Staff): It can be difficult being in a place where you are not speaking your first language. Sometimes I find it hard to express myself and I feel like I am stuck in the middle of a sentence, which can be a little bit embarrassing but I try to do my best. All the American staff members and campers here are very nice, and are very interested in our culture which is great!